Four new veterans homes planned for Southern California will include a $31-million, 400-bed facility in Lancaster, state officials said Wednesday.
The apartment complex for disabled and elderly war veterans is expected to serve a substantial number of retirees from nearby Edwards Air Force Base, and will be located across from a new county hospital, officials said.
"We think it will dovetail nicely" with the new hospital's opening, said Michael Kilbane, a spokesman for the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
Lancaster officials, clearly pleased by the announcement, said the veterans home could be built within two years if the state Legislature quickly approves its $11-million share of the cost. The federal government will pay the balance.
One state-run veterans home is under construction in Barstow, and it will be followed by another in Chula Vista and then the one in Lancaster, said Kilbane.
The site of the fourth home has not been determined, but proposals from Ventura, Perris in Riverside County and an unidentified city in Orange County are under consideration by the Governor's Commission on a Southern California Veterans Home, Kilbane said.
The advisory panel put Chula Vista ahead of Lancaster on the tentative construction schedule primarily because a hospital is already located next to the Chula Vista site, Kilbane said.
Lancaster has been lobbying actively for a veterans home since the state announced plans two years ago to build four such facilities in Southern California, where none now exist despite a growing number of aging and disabled veterans.
Earlier this year, hoping to gain an edge over competing cities, the Lancaster Redevelopment Agency bought a 38-acre vacant parcel at the northwest corner of 30th Street West and Avenue I--across from the proposed county hospital site--as a potential location for the veterans home.
The land cost $1.9 million, and the city is spending additional money for street widening and sewers.
The facility would include 220 small apartments for veterans who do not need special medical supervision. The remaining units would be for patients who need varying degrees of nursing care.
The home will be open to wartime veterans who are disabled or at least 62 years old, as well as their spouses. Residents will contribute a percentage of their income to help defray the costs.